Clinton on the Falklands

Some British bloggers seem to be infuriated by remarks made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her meeting with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner today. Here's what Clinton had to say about the ongoing dispute over the Falkland Islands:

And we agree. We would like to see Argentina and the United Kingdom sit down and resolve the issues between them across the table in a peaceful, productive way. [...]

As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

Guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan, Alex Massie writes:

So one hopes that Clinton was merely being polite, but her words carry weight and will increase a sense of expectation in Argentina (and more broadly across Latin America) that cannot possibly be met and that is guaranteed to infuriate the British. At best this is clumsy; at worst it's rather worse than that.

If me email is anything to go by...  the average Briton is likely to react to this sort of American intervention by suggesting that it's time to bring our boys home from Afghanistan and leave the Americans on their own.

The Economist's Bagehot was even angrier, and seemed to speculate that the move by Clinton was some sort of retaliation for " the release of the Lockerbie bomber and the fuss over Binyam Mohamed":

I have hesitated to read drastic slights into the sometimes awkward diplomacy between Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. But this stance on the Falklands cannot be seen any other way. It really is no way for the Americans to treat their most important military ally—as some in America doubtless appreciate.

I recognize this is a very contentious issue, but I think these writers may be reading a bit too much into Clinton's statement. It seems to me that when U.S. diplomats say they "encourage both countries to sit down," what they're really saying is, "we don't want to deal with this so please, just don't start another war." I don't really see the stab in the back here. 



Happy Texas Independence Day!

It's Texas Independence Day, and well wishes to everyone from that state, with its awesomely idiosyncratic politics, beautiful landscapes, and very tasty food. Of course, Texas Independence Day is not about Texas declaring its independence from the United States, but Texas declaring its independence from Mexico. Still, I thought it might be a good time to check in on some popular U.S.-based independence or secessionist movements. (And to boot, everyone should read Graeme Wood's killer dispatch from limbo states from Abkhazia to Somaliland in our last issue.)

5. Cascadia. A proposed Greenpeace-loving, vegan-friendly, wired and caffeinated liberaltarian republic comprised of the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington plus the Canadian province of British Columbia. Cascadia would hypothetically be one of the 20 largest economies on Earth -- home to Starbucks and Microsoft, among other companies. In its own words: "An international economic relationship? A republic? A bioregion? A cooperative commonwealth? A network of communities based on mutual aid? A utopia? Cascadia is a lot of things to a lot of different people."

4. Nantucket. Home to the wind-swept summer homes of the uberwealthy, this tiny pork-chop shaped island off of the coast of Cape Cod, along with its big neighbor, Martha's Vineyard, attempted to secede from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States in 1977. Some locals have since proposed secession to found a more socialist republic. (They might have more luck asking those summering for help turning it into an off-shore tax haven.)

3. The Green Mountain Independence Movement. A nonviolent citizens' movement that advocates for Vermont to secede due to the "the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government" -- or because "Vermont has been dragged into the quagmire of affluenza, technomania, megalomania, globalization, and imperialism by the U.S. government in collaboration with corporate America," as another site puts it. See also this site on other New England secessionist or independence movements.  

2. Alaska. The Alaska Independence Party, the Last Frontier's third-largest, advocates not for secession, but for a public referendum on it -- since the United States didn't hold one when Alaska became a state in 1958. "Alaskans were robbed of the choices we were to have as a non-self-governing territory, and steam-rolled into the current classification of a State," the party says. "Alaska first!"

In 2006, one Scott Kohlhaas wrote an initiative calling for secession (or a vote on it), kicking off a legal battle on the issue. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled: "Because  the  initiative  seeks  a  clearly unconstitutional end, the lieutenant governor correctly  declined to  certify it.  We therefore affirm the judgment of the superior court."

1. Texas. Even Gov. Rick Perry (in the midst of a gubernatorial primary vote against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson today) thinks it should consider seceding, just maybe. Alas, secession is not constitutional, despite what some insist. Either way, it seems like a bad idea.

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